“…rather like a beetle giving his opinions upon the Milky Way.”

I have a new project!  In Hereford we have 12 drawers of beetles that we thought were collected by a Victorian vicar in South America.  After looking at them I realised that there were beetles from elsewhere (there was a Goliath beetle, for example).  My project is to look through all these drawers (each beetle with its original 19th century label) and assess:

  1. The condition of the specimens and whether or not any need to be repaired or saved from verdigris;
  2. The quality of the identification and whether any need to be re-evaluated;
  3. The geographical range of the collection; and
  4. Any information relating to the collector.

I started this project yesterday by going through each drawer and completing point ‘1’, above.  I took photographs throughout which I attach here.  Bear in mind that I don’t know an awful lot about the collection yet, so this is mainly just an ‘ooh, nice’ situation for now.  Today I found out an incredible and exciting amount fo information about the collector, Thomas Algernon Chapman.  I can’t believe no one in the museum’s history bothered to either record any of this information or, more recently, find it out.

All we knew were that he was an English Victorian vicar who went to South America and collected beetles in between working at the Hereford Insane Asylum and donated said beetles to us in 1896.  Some of this is true, some of it isn’t.  For one: he was Scottish.  For two: he travelled the world and collected from everywhere.  For three: he specialised in lepidopteran genitals.  He did work in several insane asylums (which, seeing as it was in the 1800s, gives me the wiggins!).  I won’t say any more because this is really the introductory post with some pretty beetle pictures.  The juicy stuff (it is, honest) will come later. I’m very excited about this!

Enjoy:

I’m looking forward to working on this project all week and being able to give everyone more information once I have.

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